Coconuts have a bad reputation of being unhealthy because of their high saturated fat content when in fact they are high in fiber, nutrients and minerals and offer many health benefits. The fats in coconut are unique from other oils since the body utilizes them as an immediate source of energy rather than being stored as fat. This allows for an increase in metabolism and is why coconut is a great adjunct for weight loss. Another advantage of coconut is that the oil has fewer calories than other fat sources.
Adding coconut into your diet can help maintain blood sugar, prevent heart disease and stroke, enhance the immune system, help prevent bone loss, increase energy and metabolism for weight loss, promote healthy skin, relieve muscle cramps and decrease inflammation.
Coconut oil is great to cook with since it has a high heating point which means that it can withstand heat without being broken down into harmful byproducts. For example, olive oil has a low heating point so it is not ideal to cook with because it will smoke easily. When you heat olive oil you lose most of the health benefits along with producing free radicals or oxidants that can have negative effects on the body. With coconut oil this does not happen as the constituents are very stable at all temperatures which makes it ideal to cook with.
Coconut oil is also great to use in baking and on popcorn as a substitute for butter. It is important to note that unsweetened applesauce is another excellent substitute for butter in baking. You will see in many of our baking recipes we use coconut oil and applesauce.
As for brand of coconut oil we prefer Nutiva Organic Virgin Coconut oil. If you buy it in bulk it is a lot more affordable. For shredded coconut it is important to purchase unsweetened, unsulfured (no sulfites) coconut to ensure there are no refined sugars or preservatives.
Coconut sugar is another baking essential and can be used as a substitute for white or brown sugar. It is better than these other sugars because it is naturally occurring and is not highly processed and therefore has little effect on blood glucose levels. Coconut sugar also has a much higher mineral content than white or brown sugar giving your body nutrients that it requires for daily functions. It is one of our favourite sweeteners.
Coconut flour is more difficult to bake with however, we always stock it in our pantry and it comes in handy to make pie crusts. Coconut flour is very dry and non-binding so typically to counteract this effect eggs have to be added - almost 1 egg per 1/4-1/2 cup of coconut flour. We don't like to use that many eggs in baking so we tend to use it less than other gluten free flours but we are still experimenting with this flour since it does add a great taste, is high fiber and works for people on a low grain diet.
Coconut milk has many natural occurring nutrients unlike cow’s milk which needs to be fortified because of the poor, unnatural diet that the cows are fed. Coconut milk is great in curries served with vegetables, tofu and rice or rice noodles. We have also made “whipped cream” with coconut milk which makes a delicious frosting for cupcakes, on a pie or even in homemade hot chocolate.
The best canned coconut milks are Organic or Regular Thai Kitchen or Organic Western Family brands (full fat ones). You want to look for the ones without any preservatives so the best ones only have: coconut, water and guar gum (which is a natural thickener, fiber). There are some coconut milks that just contain coconut and water which is even better but won't work for the coconut "whipped" cream recipe but work in everything else.
Recipes of how to integrate coconut into your diet will follow this post soon.
See an amazing article on coconuts – “The Fat That Can Make You Thin” by Bruce Fife, ND:
For more information on the health benefits of coconut visit: